In this article we will explore how an organisation which is not strong with order experiences chaos and the 4 things that you can do to change this. You will walk away knowing more about identifying chaos and the things which you can do to avoid it.
(photo: Sebastien Wiertz)
Approximate reading time: 10 minutes
A challenge that many organisations face but don’t realise they have, has to do with how they go about their operational activities, project activities and customer delivery. In many cases, there is probably direction or an objective but very little structure, guidance or governance for the team to stay on track and be focused. When this occurs, the organisation is in chaos because despite there being a lot of activity, the activity is not focused, consistent and may not even add value
CHAOS IN THE WORKPLACE
Chaos in the workplace is an interesting situation which in my opinion is overlooked and mostly misunderstood or accepted as something that “just” has to happen. But does it? Can it be avoided?
A workplace which has order usually reflects an organisation which is in control. However, this does not mean that from time to time, it can not be chaotic.
To quote Karen Martin, “Chaos is the enemy of any organization that strives to be outstanding”. Karen wrote an insightful article titled “ The company chaos you don’t know you’re creating”. It is worth a read as Karen explores this topic of chaos from a slightly different perspective.
By definition, chaos is “
1. Complete disorder and confusion.
2. The property of a complex system whose behaviour is so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.
(Ref: oxfordictionary.com )
By definition, order is:
“ the arrangement or disposition of people or things in relation to each other according to a particular sequence, pattern or method “
(Ref: oxfordictionary.com )
In terms of business, I believe that chaos follows the same definition and the key words to consider are disorder, confusion and unpredictable. It is associated with time, quality and cost attributes either with the overall organisation, a project or some initiative. The chaos comes about mainly due to when you have resource and workflow challenges. To put it simply, I mean when you have challenges with people and processes. This is because time, quality and costs factors are the measurable attributes which are effected that most people are concerned about.
When you find theses attributes deviate away from their targets in an unfavourable manner, human nature being what it is and if unprepared, the wrong actions or responses usually results. These wrong actions or responses take place because the organisation lacks clarity, focus and purpose, and therefore, you will find that most people feel the need to do something. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for taking action rather than inaction. However, the action you take needs to be in the right direction or with some rationale behind it. The absence on rationale, objectives or even simple questions basically results in you taking blind action which further fuels chaos in the organisation.
The people within the organisation become confused and uncertain because they are not clear about the basics.
Conversely, order in business is when you have established ways of executing tasks. Having a sound governance framework which is made up of relevant processes and systems which allows the people within your organisation to deal with every ( or most ) situation(s). When a situation presents itself which is not favourable, an organisation which has order takes action which are controlled and calculated. This leads to zoning in on the actual problem but more importantly you will be taking the relevant actions to achieve tangible solutions.
If you would like to learn more about this, download my free ebook on how to make your organisation run like clockwork.
WHAT ARE THE 4 FACTORS TO BRING ORDER TO CHAOS?
Based on my experience these are the four factors which I consider to be the fundamental elements for any organisation to reduce and eliminate chaos.
Strategy is a simple and effective requirement for every initiative in business because without it there is no way of knowing what success means. Having a strategy means that you not only understand where you are today, but also where you need to be at a point in the future. When you have this and understand it, then developing the plan to get you there is easier, effective and precise.
Strategies and plans are important for every part of business as the saying goes, failing to plan means that you will plan to fail.
2. Organisation Structure.
Having a structure is needed because is means that you have considered what is required to achieve success. Having a strategy and plan is great, but to successfully deliver, the organisational requirements must be considered and they need to reflect or support the needs. Here you identify if a particular capability, skill or expertise is needed within the business. But it doesn’t mean it is limited to this; having the right skills in the place of an organisation is important, but is useless if a hierarchy isn’t clearly defined. A chain of command and more importantly, roles and responsibilities are key so that way everyone understands what they need to do and why.
Processes are required because you are considering how you need to achieve success; the important steps, considerations and checks along the way. Processes also mean that you have repeatability and a starting point for the next time rather than starting blind.
Good and relevant processes mean they should help anyone who uses them to be able progress from start to finish.
4. Governance & Reviews.
While most of these factor are often overlooked despite many having some awareness of the need for them, Governance & Reviews are simply not even considered. Governance & Reviews are valuable because you are:
A) directing or enforcing the use of systems for the team to execute and deliver results
B) periodically validating the systems make sense and capture the essential factors to achieve and deliver results
C) ensuring that your activities are on track
Have a go and see the results.
I genuinely recommend you to assess your organisation and honestly consider the above 4 steps. Depending on the complexity and level of chaos in your business, results won’t be achieved overnight. However, don’t under-value the importance of eliminating chaos.
If you need some extra help to make it happen so that you can have your organisation focused on value adding activities, then reach out to me at ANBA Solutions.
The Wrap Up.
Having chaos in an organisation is inevitable because despite our best efforts, life within any business is never going to be perfect 100% of the time. However, organisations which lack order are more likely to operate in a state of chaos for extended periods. If not addressed, these extended periods of chaos blend into each other forming the new normal for the organisation, resulting in a total state of chaos. The impact of this can be growth prohibitive in terms of profit, market share, competitiveness and people development.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts, experiences and suggestions on any other factors to bring order to chaos
What do you think?
Andrew Baldacchino, is a business coach, mentor, facilitator and speaker. He applies his global industry experience to help companies of all sizes to systemise their business so they can be more competitive, profitable and time effective.